Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variation in living organisms, viewed within a given habitat, ecosystem or in the world as a whole. The concept is usually applied to the species diversity, although the notion of genetic biodiversity is applied to the variation in genes within an individual species. While most people think of rainforests as loci of great biodiversity, biomes such as oceans and grasslands are the likely repositories for even greater variation. Retention of diverse biota is important, since intact ecosystems are thought to be essential for provision of ecosystem services to humans, including maintenance of a diverse foodbank, pollination, clean water, flood control, pest control, waste decomposition, biomass energy resources and climate stability. Biodiversity is presently critical since we live in the era of the Mass Holocene Extinction, a period of species loss caused by man, and unrivaled in rate of species loss. Although the number of total species numbers in the tens of millions, most have not yet even been described. The extinction of a species is almost always related to destruction of habitat or man-made pollution.

  • Coral reefs (collection) Featured Article Coral reefs (collection) Coral reefs (collection)

    Coral reefs are one of the most diverse, complex, aesthetically appealing and threatened ecosystems on earth. This collection will include information on a wide range of topics... More »

  • Crustacea Featured Article Crustacea Crustacea

    Crustaceans are invertebrates belonging to the phylum Arthropoda and include such familiar groups as barnacles, crabs, crayfish, lobster, water fleas and pill bugs. Crustaceans... More »

  • Ecoregions of Utah (EPA) Featured Article Ecoregions of Utah (EPA) Ecoregions of Utah (EPA)

    The Ecoregions of Utah comprise a diverse set of plant communities and geomorphic provinces. Ecoregions denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems and in the type,... More »

  • Habitat fragmentation Featured Article Habitat fragmentation Habitat fragmentation

    Habitat fragmentation involves alteration of habitat resulting in spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater... More »

  • Virus Featured Article Virus Virus

    A virus is a microscopic organism that can replicate only inside the cells of a host organism. Most viruses are so tiny they are only observable with at least a conventional... More »

  • South China Sea Featured Article South China Sea South China Sea

      The South China Sea is a critical world trade route and a potential source of... More »

  • Devonian Featured Article Devonian Devonian

    The Devonian period is a geologic time interval within the Paleozoic Era spanning from the end of the Silurian Period, aapproximately 417 million years before present (BP), to... More »

  • Spinner dolphin Featured Article Spinner dolphin Spinner dolphin

    The Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), a marine mammal in the family of oceanic dolphins,  gets its name from the spinning behavior it shows when it leaps out of... More »

  • Permian Featured Article Permian Permian

    The Permian period lasted from 290 to 248 million years ago and was the last period of the Paleozoic Era. The distinction between the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic is made at the... More »

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Plant Last Updated on 2014-10-28 12:04:37 A plant is any one of the vast number of organisms within the biological kingdom Plantae; in general, these species are considered of limited motility and generally manufacture their own food. They include a host of familiar organisms including trees, forbs, shrubs, grasses, vines, ferns, and mosses. Conventionally the term plant implies a taxon with characteristics of multicellularity, cell structure with walls containing cellulose, and organisms capable of photosynthesis. Modern classification schemes are driven by somewhat rigid categorizations inherent in DNA and common ancestry.[1] Throughout most of the history of science from Aristotle to Linnaeus and into the 20th century, species were divided into two kingdoms: animals and plants. Driven by DNA characterizations and other modern analysis, fungi and bacteria have now been removed to separate kingdoms; in particular,... More »
Biological diversity in the Himalayas Last Updated on 2014-10-28 11:33:10 Stretching in an arc over 3,000 kilometers of northern Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and the northwestern and northeastern states of India, the Himalaya hotspot includes all of the world's mountain peaks higher than 8,000 meters. This includes the world's highest mountain, Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) as well as several of the world's deepest river {C}gorges. This immense mountain range, which covers nearly 750,000 km2, has been divided into two regions: the Eastern Himalaya, which covers parts of Nepal, Bhutan, the northeast Indian states of West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh, southeast {C}Tibet ({C}China), and northern {C}Myanmar; and the Western Himalaya, covering the Kumaon-Garhwal, northwest Kashmir, and northern Pakistan. While these divisions are largely artificial, the deep defile carved by the antecedent Kali Gandaki River between the Annapurna and... More »
Angiosperm Last Updated on 2014-10-28 11:28:09 The Angiosperms, or flowering plants, described taxonomically as the division Magnoliophyta, are the largest grouping within the plant kingdom (Kingdom ''Plantae'' or "Viridiplantae") in terms of the numbers of described species.  Approximately 260,000 species of flowering plant have been named so far -- constituting nearly 90% of all known species of plants. Even so, taxonomists describe many new species annually, and estimates of total angiosperm diversity reach as high as 400,000 species.  There are about 450 families of flowering plants, and they display extremely diverse life-histories and ecological adaptations.  In addition to dominating plant biodiversity, angiosperms are the dominant photosynthesis/photosynthetic organisms (primary producers) in most terrestrial ecosystems (an important exception to this rule are the boreal forests,... More »
Northern mixed grasslands Last Updated on 2014-10-26 15:50:23   WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collectio The Northern Mixed Grasslands cross Alberta, Saskatchewan, and southern Manitoba in Canada, and run from North Dakota to northern Nebraska in the U.S., covering about 270,000 km2. Essentially an ecotone, this transitional belt separates the three tall grass prairie ecoregions to the east (Northern, Central, and Flint Hills Tall Grasslands) from the Northwestern Mixed Grasslands. In addition, the ecoregion separates the shortgrass prairie to the south from the cooler boreal forests to the north. This ecoregion is intermediate in growing season length, vegetation structure, and rainfall from the drier units to the west and the more mesic tall grass prairies to the east. It is separated from the Central and Southern Mixed Grasslands by climatic factors, the southern unit having a much warmer climate and a... More »
The Role of Botanic Gardens in Conservation of Medicinal Plant Species: A Case Study of Entebbe Bontanic Gardens Last Updated on 2014-10-21 11:20:56 A botanic garden is an institution holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education. A botanic garden has been defined as a garden containing scientifically ordered and maintained collections of plants, usually documented and labeled, and open to the public for the purposes of recreation, education and research. Medicinal plant species are those that provide people with medicines to prevent diseases, maintain health or cure ailment. Therefore medicinal plants are important in the well being of people yet most people are not aware about these species or their medicinal value. Examples of these plants include Aloe vera, Hydnocarpus kurzii, Azadirachta indica and many others. Medicinal plant species are of great value to mankind and other animals but not much emphasis is laid on their conservation especially... More »